NASA warned of safety risks in delayed private crew launches

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA auditors warn the space agency faces “significant safety and technical challenges” that need to be solved before astronauts fly in private capsules.

The agency’s inspector general office issued its findings Thursday.

In the report, auditors note Boeing and SpaceX are several years late in transporting crews to the International Space Station. The report says the private capsules likely won’t be certified before next summer and urges NASA to set a realistic timetable to avoid compromising safety.

The auditors say NASA overpaid Boeing to keep the company moving forward. The report shows, on average, a seat on Boeing’s Starliner capsule will cost $90 million, almost double the price of a SpaceX seat.

In case of further delays, NASA is seeking to buy extra seats on Russian rockets.